Combining GPS with Older Instruments

I have B&G autopilot circa 2000 at the pedestal (in the network series…i.e. network PILOT), network DATA at the nav table, wind, and a repeater at the bulkhead. I also have network WIND. I have an old Raytheon (as was) chartplotter(not working), and there is an old Raytheon plotter/radar (RL9) mounted on the pedestal reading from a Raytheon antenna mounted on a pole. It gives a reasonable radar signal.

My yacht is a classic 1970 Swan 40 Sp&S. design. She is now in Antigua.

My B&G instruments work perfectly. They are all Network B&G instruments I have an older Raytheon GPS antenna also mounted on the pole. I do not know if it gives NMEA(0183) output. My nav station is run by my laptop running Maxsea software and connected to a Globalstar satphone.

I propose to buy a small fixed GPS reader to be mounted at the nav station to give position…I assume it might be able to read the signal from the existing GPS antenna though if not I can replace it with a suitable antenna, and give a NMEA signal to my laptop computer. Ideally I should like this to be a B&G GPS (if there is one in the network series). Please advise if you know of one.

Should I buy Networknav? Any info comments? Where can I buy…any second-hand from upgrades? I need a good GPS receiver as I understand it.

I want to keep the B&G instruments I have. I want to make a system from what|I have that will speak thru NMEA to my laptop. Will Maxsea read any NMEA signal and overlay it on any of the charts loaded electronically. What output signals will MaxSea give to autopilot? Do you have any observations/advice?

I am not familiar with your B&G gear so I cannot tell you if you can feed it a GPS signal and then take the NEMA output from the B&G to your computer. However, there are several approaches for combining an standard GPS signal at the computer with your B&G wind/depth data. One approach is to purchase a NMEA combiner which will take two or more signals, combine these, and then output the data in serial, USB, or NMEA format. One such unit is made by Noland Engineering ( The other approach is to have two inputs into your computer. You can do this with a PCMIA card which accepts two or more serial inputs, or with a USB-to-serial converter. You probably have something like this now with your Globalstar phone. Good luck. -Steve

Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 8, 2005)

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